Friday February 13 - Day
clearly the class of the field, swept aside Finland 12-1 in the
semi-final and gained revenge for their Page (and only) defeat by
beating China 7-4 to win their second World Championship.
an early 4 point lead in the final, stealing one in the 1st and in the
2nd had some good fortune when China's skip promoted a third Russian
stone into scoring position. A 3 spot after the break cemented their
lead, and despite giving up as many steals (2) as they had all week, ran
out comfortable winners.
only their 4th international tournament, added a silver to two previous
Slovakia met for the third time, with Finland winning the rubber match
8-5. In the 4th a disastrous attempted tap by the Slovakian fourth
player. Branislav Jakubec, raised a Finnish stone ino the rings.
Finland's skip Markku Karjalainen settled for the 5 when his draw into
the house for a sixth point was too heavy.
performance of Canada and Scotland, semi-professionals with first class
facilities who can have no excuses, will prompt changes, is to be seen.
Thursday February 12 - Day
up their second steal and suffered their first loss in the lowest
scroring game of the tournament as China took two in the 7th for a 3-1
win. This guarantees China their best ever Worlds result.
Finland nosed ahead of Slovakia with two single point steals before the
break, only to see Slovakia in only their third appearance at a World
event, take 3 in the 7th. Finland skip Markku Karjalainen missed an open
draw into the house to win in 8, and Slovakia took their single in the
extra end for a 6-5 win and a semi-final against Russia. Finland get a
second chance at a medal wheen the play the loing semi-finalist for
In what may
be the tournament's biggest upset, qualifiers Germany beat Sochi bronze
medallists Scotland 6-3 in a relegation tie-break. Scotland managed to
score in just one end, were ahead 3-2 at the break but were frozen out
in the second half as Germany stole 4 points for a decisive 6-3
fully funded semi-professional team with a full-time (Canadian) coach
rely on tournament success for their funding. They'll join Sweden and
Norway in Finland in November, seeking the chance to play at the 2016
Worlds in Switzerland.
Wednesday February 11 - Day
North American hopes for two teams in the playoffs were
dashed when Canada and USA lost both their games on the final day of
round robin play. Canada started with a 3 against Slovakia but gave up a
steal of 3 in the 3rd and, tied with hammer in the 8th, another steal to
lose 7-6. Playing unbeaten Russia in the final draw, Canada again
started well but gave up a steal of 3 just after the break, and a single
steal down one with hammer in the final end to lose 6-4. They can take
some satisfaction from earning a stolen point, the only one surendered
by Russia the whole week.
USA lost to two relegation threatened sides, Germany and
Scotland, who will play a tie break to decide which gets a pass to next
year's championship in Switerland, and which will join Norway and Sweden
in the November Qualifying tournament.
China took two to cement their place in the 1 vs 2 Page
playoff, and Slovakia, 5th at start of play, won twice to take the final
playoff spot. They'll face Finland in the 3 vs 4 game.
Norway, despite being clear winners in Qualifying, prop
up the bottom of the table with Sweden, who take 9th place by virtue of
losses to the two teams above them with the same record.
Tuesday February 10 - Day
remains unbeaten and have yet to give up a steal while Canadians can
breathe easier as two wins put their team two games away from relegation
with just two more to play.
Scotland 6-4 despite going behind early. Single point steals in the 5th
and 6th provided the margin of victory. In the evening draw they easily
saw off Norway 9-2, stealing the last 8 points.
their playoff hopes dented with single point losses to Finland and
Sweden, where they were ahead 6-5 with hammer in the 7th, but gave up steals
in 8 and the extra to lose 7-6. China split, losing to Russia but
beating Germany and with 5 wins are all but certain to make the playoffs
for a fourth successive year.
won twice including a 6-5 defeat of Scotland to nose ahead of the bottom
4 teams, three of whom face qualifying for next year's event.
down for results
Monday February 9 - Day 3
narrowly avoided hearing Vic Rauter asking "is four too many?" as
Sweden's last stone hit for the win, rolled too far allowing Canada to
squeak home 6-4. Canada did not regroup, however, and a 9-8 evening loss
to USA puts them in a tie for 5th place with games against Scotland and
unbeaten Russia still to come. After 5 draws Canada have given up more
points than they have scored.
fancy their chances of making the playoffs having earlier defeated
previously unbeaten China 6-3.
schedule has beeen kind to hosts Finland, who posted two wins but have
the favoured teams still to play. Norway and Slovakia both earned their
first wins, while Sweden and Germany lost both games.
Sunday February 8 - Day 2
Defending champions Canada
continued to wobble in their morning draw, giving up late game steals in
a 6-4 loss to qualifiers Germany. They avoided a worst ever championship
start by defeating Finland 8-3 in the evening. Skip Mark Ideson said his
team had been competitive in their early games without taking
opportunities. "Today weíve been finally able to do that and thatís a
big step forward for us.Ē
Russia and China ended Day 2 as
the only undefeated sides. Scotland, after a cagey opening that saw the
scoreboard untouched until Sweden took a deuce in the 4th, stole their
way to a 6-2 win before losing to China 6-4.
USA had two wins despite giving
up an opening end 4 spot against Slovakia. Qualifiers Norway prop up the
table with Slovakia, both looking for their first win.
Saturday February 7 - Day 1
Canada lost 8 - 3 to
China, repeating the result from the opening game in China's
international career in Vancouver 2009. Emergency replacement skip Mark
Ideson, in for Jim Armstrong, put a brave face on the defeat noting the
"newness" of the team, and claiming good effort and "pretty good
throwing." Coach Rea had pitched the event as a test of their
capabilities and preparation, and in fairness Canada have not always
started well. They get a chance to regroup against the two least
experienced teams on Day 2.
Scotland and Russia,
podium favourites, both had emphatic wins and hosts Finland registered a
rare international victory. Sweden raced to an early 7 - 1 lead and hung
on for a 7-6 win over neighbours Norway.
defending champions Team Canada were about to announce an unchanged
squad, skip Jim Armstrong was hospitalised, awaiting surgery following a
Canada has taken five out of five gold medals since 2009 with Armstrong
as skip, they have failed to reach the podium at the last three Worlds
"Absolutely we are going to miss him, not only for his shooting skills
but as a team mate and a leader." says Coach Joe Rea. "This team however
is very prepared and capable and we are excited to have this opportunity
to put our planning to work in Finland."
Ideson will skip and holding the broom for Ideson will be Ina Forrest,
who moves from 2nd to throwing 4th stones. Manitoba's Dennis Thiessen
continues at 3rd, Gaudet moves to 2nd and rookie Marie Wright who won
her "D card" funding at a selection camp at the end of November is the
inclusion marks the first time a majority female team has competed at
the three year accumulation of qualification points for the 2018
Paralympics begins at this year, Canada's preparation has appeared
somewhat low key in contrast to Russia and Scotland, the other two
medallists at last year's Paralympics.
coach Tony Zummack emphasises 2015 performance.
post-Paralympics year needs to be taken seriously. An early good finish
eases pressure later. If the level of consistency continues to improve
then (the qualifiers] may need upwards of 15 points. That would mean an
average finish of 5th at each of the three events and a good possibility
that any team without three chances to accumulate points will need need
a top 4 finish in the other two."
the top eight teams (this year the top seven as the 2016 event is to be
held in Switzerland who qualify as hosts) at the World's are guaranteed
a place the following year. The others must compete in an open qualifying event for the
remaining places; and as Korea, Japan, Italy and Switzerland and others
have discovered, returning to the top 10 is no easy task.
the Sochi Paralympic medallists competed at major North American
tournaments this Fall. Russia won the newly named Canadian Open in
Richmond BC, beating Scotland in the final with Canada 3rd.
same two teams played the final of Ottawa's Cathy Kerr Memorial Spiel,
the world's largest wheelchair curling event by entries, with Canada
forced into the consolation event.
third leg of Russia and Scotland's tour was the US Open in Utica NY
(Canada did not compete) where Collinda Joseph's enterprising Ottawa
rink defeated Scotland for gold, with Russia taking bronze.
accident that the three Paralympic medallists are all fully funded
curlers. Sweden's Jalle Jungnell, the sport's most experienced
wheelchair curler, says his team all have full time jobs and that it is
becoming increasingly difficult to compensate for the ability of top
teams to commit all their time and energy to curling.
will however be great fun," he says, "and we have as always a great
spirit in the team, on and off the ice. You have to have fun to
long time 3rd, Glenn Ikonen, has retired, replaced by Ronny Persson, a
former Paralympic downhill medallist from Nagano and Salt Lake.
Jager, who brought his own cheering section to the Vancouver Worlds,
returns to skip Team Germany after political disputes over who was
actually running the sport led to his temporary departure. Germany's
subsequent relegation led to his re-instatement and successful return
via last November's Qualifying. Norway took full advantage of home ice
to claim the second qualifying slot.
Unchanged Slovakia prepared by staying close to home; winning an eight
team tournament spread over several weekends, playing Poland, Italy and
five domestic Czech teams.
Steven Emt (Andover CT) joins a USA team still awaiting their first
medal. Fans who watched TV coverage of the team's Paralympic performance
will hope skip Patrick McDonald muzzles the constant and often
contradictory on-ice kibbitzing from his teammates.
a playoff team the past three years with two bronze medals, are unchaged
and growing in experience, Finland on the other hand will hope home ice
advantage will keep them out of next November's Qualifying, from which
they are unlikely to re-emerge.
will win? Probably a Sochi medallist, but perhaps this year for the
first time since 2008, Canada are not clear favourites. Despite Coach
Rea's endorsement of Armstrong's shooting, it is not exceptional. What
he brought was decades of ice reading and game management experience.
Even if Canada play well without him, other teams will find it easier to
believe they can win.
(an extended version of these comments can be found
HERE and in the February issue of
The Curling News)